Former Manchester United youth stopper signs for Greek giants

Barnsley FC - Oakwell Stadium

Luke Steele never made the grade at Old Trafford, but may find himself playing Champions League football next season.

After six years regular football in the Championship with Barnsley, former United goalkeeper Luke Steele is reported to have sealed an impressive transfer to the Greek Superleague with Panathinaikos.

The Athens giants only managed to finish sixth in the league last season, but that was enough for them to make the league playoffs, which they won to ensure they would feature in the Champions League qualifying rounds this season.

It is some turnaround for 29-year-old Steele, who was destined for League One football if he stayed with Barnsley this year, and who kept goal for United's FA Youth Cup triumph in 2003 after signing from boyhood club Peterborough United. 

Though he exhibited plenty of promise at Old Trafford he went to West Brom after five years in Manchester, and it wasn't until he headed to Oakwell, initially on loan in 2007, that Steele found some regular playing time. 

He produced an awesome display to keep Liverpool at bay in Barnsley's famous FA Cup Fifth Round win in 2008, and went on to make 226 appearances for the Tykes, although his association with the club ended with Barnsley's relegation to the third tier of English football.

Fellow ex United player Roy Carroll is also enjoying the winding down of his career at Panathinaikos's rivals Olympiakos, though he didn't managed to feature last season.

Promising young goalkeeper Stefano Kapino left the Greens this summer, switching to Bundesliga side FC Mainz, leaving an opening for Steele to come in and stake his claim for a first team spot. He's done well enough to earn a two-year-deal, and may now be playing Champions League football rather than preparing for Barnsley's opening league game against Crawley Town.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch